Kobe Bryant’s Parents: Who Are His Mother & Father, Joe & Pamela Bryant?
Kobe Bryant was in the spotlight at a young age thanks to his famous parents, but the family connections that helped set him on the path to NBA stardom would become a double-edged sword later in life as Kobe’s deteriorating relationship with his parents captured headlines.
Kobe died on Sunday in a helicopter crash, and his passing has drawn attention to all aspects of his life, including his upbringing. Kobe was the son of a former NBA player, forward Joe “Jellybean” Bryant. His mother was Pamela Bryant, who is the sister of former NBA player Chubby Cox.
Thanks to his father, Kobe grew up immersed in basketball. ESPN reported in 2010 that as a child, his dad would share videos of famous NBA players and helped Kobe learn all their moves.
“My father told me, ‘Watch this. See this guy? This is how you can make use of your left hand,’ ” Kobe said. “It was John Battle, dribbling left and laying it in.”
Kobe became something of a basketball prodigy, eventually becoming one of the most successful players to jump directly from high school to the NBA.
But even though Kobe’s parents helped pave his path to the NBA, their relationship would grow rocky as he found stardom with the Los Angeles Lakers. As the Orlando Sentinel reported in 2003, Kobe’s parents did not attend his wedding, reportedly not happy that he was getting married at 21 to 18-year-old Vanessa, who he remained married to until his death.
Kobe also revealed that his father was uncomfortable that Vanessa was Latina, not African American. Joe spoke publicly about the disagreements over Kobe’s marriage.
“Once he decided to get married, it’s his life now,” Joe Bryant said.
Back in 2013, their relationship deteriorated even more after Kobe’s parents tried to auction off $1.5 million worth of his memorabilia. Lawyers for the Lakers star filed a cease and desist letter to stop the auction, and he took to Twitter to vent about the situation with his mother.
In an interview with ESPN, Kobe revealed that he had a falling out with both parents and was no longer on speaking terms.
“Our relationship is sh*t,” he said at the time. “I say [to them], ‘I’m going to buy you a very nice home, and the response is ‘That’s not good enough’?”
The relationship between Kobe and his parents remained largely out of the spotlight in the years that followed, though reports indicated that they were still not on speaking terms at the time of Kobe’s death.